Suffering From (Long) Exposure

Old John
Old John, Bradgate Park, Leicestershire. 30 seconds at f16, ISO 200. Fujinon 35mm f2.

This morning the sun was shining and as I ate my breakfast it looked like a great day to get out and take some photos. However I was suffering from my usual problem – not knowing where to go.

I had just about made up my mind to head into town and wander around aimlessly for a while when I got an SMS from my sister and during the exchange of messages she suggested I head out to Old John, a very well known Leicestershire landmark situated in Bradgate Park.

By the time I actually got in the car the clouds had blanketed just about all of the sky. But this was fine, I had my tripod and my 10 stop ND filter with me (Cokin Nuances) so I decided during the drive that I would try taking some long exposures.

Old John
Old John, Bradgate Park, Leicestershire. One of a handful of shots I took that weren’t long exposures today. 1/35 at f11, ISO 200, Fujinon 10-24mm.

As I set up my tripod for the first time I was soon regretting not having thought to bring gloves with me. It wasn’t long before I was fumbling with the controls of the camera and shoving my hands in my pockets did little to remedy this.

I stayed around the vicinity of the Old John tower for a couple of hours getting steadily more refrigerated before deciding that I’d done enough and that what I really needed was a huge mug of tea.

As I sat processing my photos in Lightroom and sipping my tea at home, I discovered that the sensors of both my X-Pro2 and my XT-1 really could do with a very thorough clean. Dust spots show up way more at smaller apertures and I tend to use smaller apertures when I’m shooting long exposures.

It’s maybe the one downside of interchangeable lens mirrorless cameras that I can think of – more sensor dust. There’s no mirror so there’s nothing to stop dust falling right onto your sensor. I had given both bodies a good dust out using a rocket blower before heading out. Maybe it’s time I dug out the swabs I bought but have never used?

This is the reason I have used my X100T for most of my Fujifilm based long exposure work in the past. The X100 range are mirrorless but the lens is fixed so there’s no lens swapping opportunity for dust to get inside. But sometimes you just want to shoot some long exposures at different focal lengths so it’s time to suck up the dust.

Old John
A bit closer up. 28 seconds at f11, ISO 200. Fujinon 18mm f2.
Old John
The “handle” of the “tankard”. 28 seconds at f11, ISO 200. Fujinon 18mm f2.

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